Why Nations Rise


Shortlisted for the 2022 Hedley Bull Prize.

Watch a Council on Foreign Relations talk on the book here.






 Praise for Why Nations Rise

“The rise—and fall—of great powers has been the focus of statesmen and scholars at least since Thucydides. In Why Nations Rise, Manjari Miller asks why some powers accept the existing order while others upend it. She shows that what matters is not just their power, but their narratives. As China becomes the biggest player in the history of world, Miller’s study of its meteoric rise deserves close reading.”

-Graham Allison is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard University

“Manjari Miller’s Why Nations Rise marvelously rescues the cognitive dimensions of national ascendency from the traps of materialist determinism in contemporary theories of competitive international politics. By demonstrating that expanding material capacity is insufficient to transform a rising state into a great power, she draws attention to the importance of a conscious desire for mastery coupled with the purposeful articulation and embrace of a vision that can buttress, justify and legitimize its rise. A provocative contribution in the best sense of the word.”

-Ashley J. Tellis is the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

“Manjari Chatterjee Miller tells a sophisticated story about why some rising powers like China become great powers, while others like India do not. She maintains that how a state thinks about its role in the world matters as much as its material capabilities. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the dynamics of the emerging multipolar international system.”

-John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago

“Manjari Miller challenges how we traditionally think about the impact of rising powers on the international system, demonstrating that national narratives about power matter at least as much as the accumulation of power itself.  Miller’s comparison of national narratives throughout history provides unique context for the contrast of Chinese great power ambitions and Indian reticence. For scholars the inclusion of national narratives in the determination of state power is a significant contribution. For policymakers the lesson is clear: the “India card” that matters most in the larger geopolitical equilibrium of Asia is for India to succeed on its own terms.”

-Michael J. Green is the Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies

“In Why Nations Rise, Miller explores how rising powers become great ones. Armed with a provocative argument and comparative case studies, this book makes the case for the critical role of the narratives that states hold about what it means to be a great power and the proactive steps they take to become one. Anyone interested in power transitions should read this book.”

-M. Taylor Fravel is the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and Director, Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Read a Round Table by the National Bureau of Asian Research here, and a mention in the Washington Post here.





Associate Professor of International Relations